'Elimu Asilia' is the Swahili equivalent for indigenous knowledge (IK). It acts as a common platform where National Museums of Kenya (NMK) libraries working with NMK researchers and volunteers interact with local communities and children in the collection, preparation, preservation, sharing, exchange and dissemination of IK on culture, environment, health and history for the memory of our nation for sustainability and eco-social development. For more, please visit http://www.elimuasilia.org.
After the bridegroom and the bride have
decided to get married, they both discuss the matter or give the news to
both parents. If both parents have agreed with the plan they then get
together for the preparation with the help of some elders and in- laws.
While in preparation dealings, they both discuss about the bride price
they normally give a bull and a cow also they give out a goat.
The bride price is not paid as a whole so that it can cement their
relationship .The bride should not prepare food for the groom’s family
or the in-laws the same applies to the groom’s family. The bride’s
family is the only one who is supposed to prepare the food. It is said
that the bride should not be around the cooking area or within the
The bride’s mother should prepare
chicken “Gweno” and other meals are also included example are cow’s meat
“ring dhiang” whereby the cow should be slaughtered on that day. The
people who were preparing food are the ones who are involved with
serving the groom’s family.
The groom’s in –law/ family should not
stay at the bride’s house till 6:00 pm since it may end up bringing
conflict between the two families.
After that, the bride and the bridegroom
are given five weeks to prepare for the wedding ceremony. It is said
that the girl should be placed in the house for three days before
marriage. The locking of the girl is to ensure that the girl is fully
prepared for marriage.
After the three days the bride and
bridegroom are supposed to spend the night together, the reason to that
is to confirm whether that she is a virgin by the grandmother “Dani” and
the news is spread to both the in- laws when they meet again.
Now the girl is handed on to the
bridegroom family so that the ceremony can continue whereby it may be
the last since she has been handed over.
Story Prepared by: Sharon Atieno, Fiona Achieng, Quinter Anyango, Viona Akinyi, Quinter Achieng,Levina Anango, Queen Aoko, Phoebe Adhiambo, Ann Atieno, Sharon Adhiambo,Lavender Achieng, Belindah Nereah, Lavender Mewa and Meldon Awuor Ruaraka High School
Amongst the luhyia community, we have several sub tribes they include the Tiriki, Bukusu,Wanga, Idakho, Maragoli e.t.c
all these sub-tribes have similarities and differences in the way they
conduct their marriage ceremony. That is for the tiriki and wanga the
boy would catch the girl while she is either going to fetch water or
firewood and the other sub-tribe some would lock up the girl in their
rooms (isimba) and then wait for the following day to go and report to
the girl’s parents that they have their sheep (girl) at their house.
After the girl
has agreed or the parents have agreed to marry, they would all arrange
for the traditional marriage including the dowry. On the day of the
marriage ceremony to take place there will be a meeting from both
families to organize how they will take the girl if they had reached to
an agreement of the dowry, however, if they had not reached to an
agreement there will be no marriage that would occur until they have
agreed for them to do so.
On the other hand on the day of the
ceremony the groom would come to the home accompanied by his parents,
his friend and even his uncles, it involved his uncles because if
anything happens to the groom’s father and a problem arise to the
marriage the uncles will act as the parents while the meeting is going
on. The girl’s family that is the parents, friends and aunties they
choose aunties because of the same reason as the boy’s uncle. The girl
will be hidden while other relatives will be preparing some traditional
foods for example ugali, chicken and busaa (a traditional brew).
After the meeting is over and both
families have agreed the day the dowry will be brought they may decide
to allow the boy to go with the girl or disagree. They will all
celebrate for the wedding and before 6 pm. The in- laws were supposed to
have left. The dowry (discussed number of cows, sheep or goat) would be
brought on the agreed date.
Story Prepared by: Silvia Khatetsia, Hadija Ashuma, Yvonne Jeiza,Salome Macreen and Rose Ondeche Ruaraka High School
The Kikuyu culture is a well known cultural group that is
predominantly found in the central highlands of Kenya. Customarily,
marriage proceedings often began with the man proposing to the woman.
After she agrees to be married, a series of events will follow. The
bride to be approaches her parents and informs them of her intentions of
marrying. The parents then enquire about the man’s background e.g. clan
from which he comes from, this is to ensure that there is no cross
marriage between family members. The groom also breaks the news to his
parents and does the same. After that both parents of the lady and the
man meet to negotiate and set a date for the payment of dowry, this is
strictly done between elders. On this day the first things to be taken
by the groom’s family were a he- goat and she- goat which has not yet
given birth. The male and female goats were known as mwate na hareka.
Dowry payment is a series of events namely:- 1.Kumenya mucii-getting to know the brides home.2.Kuhanda ithigi-Literally means planting a branch of a tree3.Kuracia-Actual dowry payment
On the set the bride- to- be and her
relatives do all the cooking for example mukimo cooked with stinging
nettle (thafai), chapatti , black beans (njahi) and bunch of bananas
(mukano), while on the other side the father and young men relatives
roasted some meat while waiting to receive dowry. This is called ruracio
, a feast where the groom and his family bring the dowry at the bride
–to –be home and show up at about 1pm. On the arrival the groom’s family
will find the gate closed. This is a sign to show that they must sing
their way in. Then the bride -to -be and her female relatives welcome
them in with songs and dances. After settling in and before any eating
the bride to be is taken away by her fellow female in-laws and
relatives, there she is given some advice meanwhile the groom starts (
kuhanda ithigi) planting a branch of tree which symbolizes that the lady
has been booked by the groom. He then starts the payment process
together with his parents and elders to the parents of the lady and
their elders. The dowry could be:-1.Goima – fattened ram2.Thenge-He goat – this could be from 99 of them onwards depending on the negotiation made
because for example in Kiambu, one has to take 120 goats and 20 cows,
after that two more goats are slaughtered
(kugurania). In this each, meat part had a specified person to take it. 3.Mori – heifer 4.Njohi ya uuki – beer made from honey for the elders as a sign of respect.5.Cows
If the groom didn’t bring all the
required dowry negotiated earlier he is expected to remember to finish
his payment, failure to do so spells dishonor to that family.
After this the bride- to -be is finally
recalled and becomes a bride. They all happily feast and eat together.
The bride’s family then gives some items to the bride to carry to their
home such as kyondo – weaving basket, ciihuri-calabash, lesos, nyungo-
pot, mukwa –new rope, a blanket and bed sheets for the bride’s mother,
handkerchiefs for the sisters and honey for preparing “muratina” (beer).
As the bride leaves with the groom the
bride’s parents then wait to do the last process which is itara- getting
to see the nest or nestling place of their daughter.
Story Prepared By: Grace Njoki, Elizabeth Gitau, Eunice Waithira, Beatrice Nyambura,Rachael Njeri, Eddah Njoki, Jane Wanjiru, Pauline Wangari and Victoria Warue RUARAKA HIGH SCHOOL
According to Italian traditional marriage, when a man wanted to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, he had to speak to the bride-to-be’s father. Once the father agreed and both the families were fine with it, presents of acceptance between families were exchanged. These could be home items and so on. It was customary for the prospective groom to place a diamond ring on his bride-to-be’s middle finger before the engagement was announced and later on after doing a small engagement party a wedding date is set, though they were not to marry in the month of May and August. Since the month of May was dedicated to Virgin Mary because all Italians belong to Catholic Church. August instead was considered to be the month of sickness and bad luck. Most couples were getting married on Sundays as it was considered a lucky day.
During the wedding day a white ribbon above the church entrance was tied. this shows that a union was taking place in the church. The bride and the groom to be used to walk towards the altar together symbolizing the journey of marriage.
In those days the brides were to wear green gowns symbolizing fertility or a long white handmade gown. Neither the bride nor the groom was to buy wedding rings. It was to be bought by the wedding testimony couples as a gift and a sign of commitment to the new couple, also there was no dowry payment but both families of the groom and bride divided the wedding ceremony expenses equally. This is carried out up to today.
After exchanging vows as the bride and the groom walk outside the church door, rice was thrown to the newly wedded couple as a sign of prosperity both in wealth and children. It is also kept till now. After taking some photos in the church, doves were released as a symbol of love and happiness. The doves could be bought by either friends of the wedded couple or family relatives. Then they all headed to the reception which was to be in a restaurant, never in the open air. Once through with the eating and some show dances, a toast had to be made. No wedding could be without a toast; they were to do so with a half filled cup of white wine. They then used to toast “Hurray for the newlyweds!” (Evviva gli sposi).
Presents were then given to the newlyweds by members of the family and friends. The bride’s family used to give towels, bed sheets, pillows and bed covers, they were to be all in white as a sign of marriage and beginning of new life together. A golden necklace was given by the groom’s family to the bride as a sign of acceptance. This brought the end of the ceremony. As the guests walked out the groom and the bride gave each of them confetti. These are packed sweet-like colour white put in a small silk cloth together with some coins – sign of richness, rice-sign of many children and a ceramic small angel –sign of God’s love and protection.
This was given as a thanksgiving to the ones who attended the wedding and their beginning of a new life as a couple. Up to today some of these traditions are still kept.